DTV coupon backlog will soon disappear

With the stimulus bill now signed into law, TV viewers should receive new coupons within weeks to help defray the cost of DTV converter boxes.

The mandatory switch to digital TV was postponed to June 12, after the government ran out of budget authority for the $40 coupons earlier this year.

With President Obama’s signature on the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, the government will clear the nearly 4 million coupon requests within three weeks of receiving the funds, the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) said week.

This time the agency will put analog-only households at the head of the line for DTV-to-analog converter box coupons if demand for coupons threatens to slow down distribution. If no waiting list emerges, the NTIA said it could process all households that apply within about a week.

The stimulus bill contains tens of millions of dollars for an estimated 10 million to 20 million households, which have older televisions that won’t work after the switchover.